This article is part three of a four-part series about the concept of breakthrough leadership. In earlier articles I’ve referenced that breakthrough leadership requires change and introspection from a number of perspectives. It’s required at the individual level in how people lead. It requires changing how leaders interact with those they serve and direct. This third article details how leadership must become a collective force in the organization – one that is known, branded, and recognized.
Branded Leadership That’s Ours
So what is your leadership brand? Put another way, what is leadership like on your team or in your organization? And yes, I’m talking to YOU! While your boss or CEO may have a leadership style, leadership in an organization is truly defined by how leadership is lived daily. For example, if you have a CEO who is transformational, generous and thoughtful, yet an organization that is angry, transactional and isolated, it’s highly likely that the CEO’s leadership style or preferences won’t be enough to overcome the daily habits of those who don’t think or work in the same way.
Furthermore, even highly successful companies have different leadership styles within. Starbucks, Tesla and Google are all immensely successful companies, yet the culture of leadership within each is very different. For the most successful organizations, that different feel or perspective is by design.
What Kind of Branded Leadership is Needed Here?
As you read these words you may be asking yourself, what kind of leadership is needed in my organization? What kind of brand is required? To answer that, let’s first think about the outcomes you’re expecting to produce. If you work in Silicon Valley where innovation is the focal point of everything you do, it is essential that you establish a branded leadership culture that revolves around innovation or creativity. To make that practical, a leader would ask, “If my group organization requires high levels of creativity, how can we lead in a way that allows creativity to blossom?” To that end, leaders at all levels of that organization may strive to brand their efforts by ensuring that they are always infusing learning and creativity in everything they do. This would create the type of leadership that would drive the results that are needed.
Ask the Right Questions for Your Leadership Brande
Let’s get specific about helping you think about your leadership brand in your organization. To do so, be prepared to respond to the following questions:
What do we need to be excellent at doing?
Ask yourself what your team or organization needs to be excellent at doing to achieve the results year after year. In the example above from Silicon Valley, I reflected on the notion that high levels of creativity might be needed. With other business entities you might need to be highly precise or exacting – demonstrating high levels of stability and trustworthiness. Every organization is different; and you need to think about what sort of excellence needs to be demonstrated on your team or in your organization to be successful.
What kind of leadership is needed to drive that type of excellence?
In the above examples we have two different types of organizations; one that puts a premium on precision, while the other puts a premium on innovation. If you are attempting to lead an organization that needs to be precise, creating focused and rigorous working conditions are probably the best pathways forward. Conversely, if your organization needs to be creative by pushing the innovation envelope every quarter, a far more open and freewheeling environment may be required.
What activities or strategies are required to lead this way?
In both examples, specificity is required. In order to achieve an organization that is rigorous and precise, the leader would need to make sure that they planned activities that supported that outcome. This might come down to how they run a meeting or plan a professional development session.
It’s Our Leadership! Name It. Live It.
Don’t try to be perfect. Even the best organizations struggle with those three questions and don’t always get it right. However, the best organizations truly do understand the business that they are in, understand the leadership that’s required to make the most of that business opportunity, and they take the steps necessary to live it with strategy and action every day.